Its summer, and Im on vacation, so this months column is what you might call a vacation column.
Fortunately for me, my little hiatus extends until the end of July so I dont know what Ill call next months column, but Ill worry about that when the time comes. Remember, Im on, well, the v word. So rather than my normal tone, this column will be more like a beach book, with small random chapters.
Chapter one. Lets get this months driving issue out of the way (you knew there had to be one, didnt you?) The topic is running green lights thats not a typo, I said, running green lights!
A friend sent me a video clip about red light runners which could also apply to a stop sign and I knew I would use it in my column. This video reminded me that if someone is running a red light, there is a distinct possibility that there may be an innocent, and yet unsuspecting, someone running a green light coming the other way.
Thinking, as they say, that the coast is perfectly clear is a recipe for disaster. You only have to view one of these video clips once to understand the absolute mayhem that ensues when one vehicle t-bones another at full speed.
So, what are we to do? Well, since we have absolutely no control over the other drivers, the solution is up to us.
Think about it this way a red light, or yellow, or green is a light bulb nothing more, and nothing less. This whole red light-green light thing only works because we have a gentlemans agreement that well all abide by it. When one of us decides, consciously or not (dont even get me started on the phone/texting thing), to not play nicely all hell breaks loose.
So, how to mitigate the threat? I can only tell you what I try to do. If I cant account for other vehicles either at, or approaching, the intersection, Im prepared to either stop or take evasive action to avoid an accident. I learned this while riding motorcycles, and while driving emergency vehicles.
This bit of defensive driving (read added safety) is extremely important in any vehicle, but its a critical survival skill while on a motorcycle. So keep a sharp eye out before you just blow a green light, because while you may be legally right, you could dead right. Its just a thought.
Chapter two. To be or not to be the general contractor on finishing a basement is truly the question. My wife and I own a nice vacation cabin in the mountains of Western North Carolina, or as they say round these-here-parts, WNC.
The cabin was new when we purchased it a couple of years ago and had an unfinished basement which we immediately knew we would finish at some point.That some point is now.
Of course I could have taken the easy, but more expensive, way out and hired a general contractor for the whole job.
But nooooo ...
Since Ive been watching every episode of "Holmes on Homes," I think that Im good to go. The major difference between Holmes and me is that he knows what hes doing, and I pretty much dont. So with several Holmes episodes under my belt, I take my measurements, make my (to scale) drawing, spend scores of hours doing research on all facets of the project, and just as many hours on the DIY (do-it-yourself) chatroom asking questions.
Then I finally start making phone calls to sub-contractors. Ive asked for local recommendations, gone to see their finished jobs, and now, received estimates. I havent, as yet, pulled any permits, so for now, Im using the trust but verify method with my contractors. Ive hired a contractor to stud out the basement and I believe it helps that I am here every day looking over his shoulder, just nosing around, and asking questions. I hope to save a few bucks by being the GC, but, instinctively I know, if Im not careful, it could end up costing me in the long run.
Well see how all of this plays out. In the mean time, to those of you who have chosen to be the GC on a large project, you have my complete and total admiration.
Chapter three. I have this little nit to pick.
My lovely wife and I go out to eat a fair amount, and although its less than we used to, its still several times a week. Consequently, we know first-hand whether service has been good, or not so good, and we tip accordingly. So the other night we were eating out and the server gave me a $20 dollar bill and small (coin) change, as my change, for the check. Now, as it turns out, I didnt have any small bills with which to leave an appropriate tip, and I had to hunt her down to ask her to break the bill for me. As an isolated incident, this is not a big deal, but it has happened to me multiples of times over the last couple of years.
I dont know how servers or cashiers are taught to give change, but it certainly feels to me like if they give me a $10, and the tip should be, say, $8, they are expecting that I will just leave the larger amount rather than wait for them to get me change. Maybe a lot of people do. Ergo, in my opinion, this bad habit not only continues, but seems to me to be proliferating. Not yet, but one of these days a server who does this is going to get a big fat zero from me.
I think they should give customers a combination of small bills so they can leave what they believe to be an appropriate tip. Hell, I dont know maybe Im just getting old and cranky even when Im on vacation.
Rick Godfrey writes a monthly column for fredericknewspost.com.